Team Cohesion Key In Penn State Women’s Volleyball’s Masterful Performance Against Wisconsin
On November 3, No. 19 Penn State women’s volleyball won the first two sets in its match against No. 1 Nebraska, but ultimately fell to the Cornhuskers 3-2 for the Nittany Lions’ fourth loss in seven games.
This past weekend, the team was in search of a change, and Penn State found it.
The Nittany Lions swept Michigan 3-0 Friday night, then had a test Saturday night against No. 2 Wisconsin, but pulled off the 3-1 upset. Head coach Katie Schumacher-Cawley credited the team’s ability to adapt, which led to the 2-0 weekend.
“The team came to practice every day with a purpose and willing to make changes,” she said. “They’re working hard, and everyone is just putting in a little extra right now to help the team win.”
There were several items Schumacher-Cawley pointed out as areas to improve on after last week’s match against Nebraska which seemed to be a non-issue on Saturday.
She emphasized how many runs of points Nebraska had, but against Wisconsin, Penn State benefitted from big scoring runs of its own. In the second set against Wisconsin, the Nittany Lions used a 7-0 run to jump to a 15-9 and set themselves up to win the set. Then, in the fourth set, several 3-0 runs opened the door to leave no doubt and secure the match victory.
“I think this was the first time I’ve seen them not give up on points from start to finish,” Schumacher-Cawley said. “Everyone did their job, and that’s why this group won.”
Setter Mac Podraza, who had a season-high 51 assists in the match, noted the team’s collaboration.
“That was an example of us playing cohesively as a group. We had each other’s backs out there,” she said. “That’s one thing we’ve been talking about a lot.”
Schumacher-Cawley was also pleased with her team’s joint effort not only during the match but all week leading up to it.
“Even the players that didn’t get in at all have been challenging the starting side, and they’re making them better,” Schumacher-Cawley said. “That’s the key for us to keep getting better.”
As Penn State has learned throughout the season, the competition within the Big Ten won’t slow down as the season continues. However, the team believes this win will provide a spark for the future.
“That was a huge win. Really good team,” Podraza said. “Every win in the Big Ten is huge, so it’s definitely going to help us moving forward.”
Not only did the win give the team momentum for the four remaining regular-season matches, but there were also many learning experiences the team took from it. Podraza found the size of Wisconsin at the net forced the Badgers to be focused on Penn State’s hitters, giving her more open space on the court.
The height up front also posed a challenge on the defensive side, but senior middle blocker Taylor Trammell was happy with the way Penn State came through in the end after “covering a little bit rocky in the beginning.”
The Nittany Lions will take these lessons into their next contest at 7 p.m. on Friday, November 17, against Michigan State for their annual Silent Set match.
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About the Author
This is the Nittany Lions’ 43rd straight NCAA Tournament appearance.
Head coach Mike Rhoades lost his first matchup against his former team.
The Nittany Lions had 586 offensive yards and five touchdowns against the Spartans.